The Atlanta Falcons had it all in the 2016-2017 season. They had the league MVP in Matt Ryan, a running back who had over 1,000 rushing yards, and most importantly an 18 point Super Bowl halftime lead over the NFL’s best team, the New England Patriots. All season long the Falcons were very well respected. Their hype on social media exploded when they extended their lead to 25 in the third quarter. However, instead of being remembered by having an incredible season led by Matt Ryan, the Falcons were remembered by choking a 25 points lead in the Super Bowl, as Tom Brady and the Patriots stormed past the Falcons in the fourth quarter and won the Super Bowl in overtime. Ever since that game, the Falcons have not gone back to the Super Bowl and even missed the playoffs this past season. Yes, the team that was so close to winning the Super Bowl just three years ago missed the playoffs, but there are a lot of things going for them in this upcoming season and here are three reasons why the Falcons will bounce back next season.
The Falcons Will Bounce Back Next Season
Addressed Needs in Draft
The Falcons biggest need on offense heading into the off-season was the offensive line, and they drafted two offensive linemen in the first round: Chris Lindstrom and Kaleb McGary. Both of these players will make a big impact. They also added much-needed corner depth and selected Quadree Ollison, a promising running back to replace Tevin Coleman as the backup running back. Injuries played a huge effect on the Falcons last year and the Falcons added depth so that they can withstand the inevitable injuries.
Fully Healthy Devonta Freeman
When Devonta Freeman is healthy, he is one of the best running backs in the NFL, as he put up two straight seasons of over 1,000 rushing yards in 2015 and 2016. Not only is he a very talented running back, but he is very efficient, averaging over 4.5 yards per carry since 2015. The departure of Tevin Coleman could end up helping the Falcons, as Freeman will become more of a workhorse running back, which should provide the Falcons with a more steady and consistent offense. Coleman is a talented running back who should fit well with the 49ers, but the Falcons now have a clear-cut, number one running back.
Healthy Stars on Defense
Deion Jones is a top five middle linebacker in the NFL, and his impact on the Falcons was put on full display this year, as the Falcons plummeted on defense without him. Deion Jones is in the conversation for being the best coverage linebackers in the NFL, and his ProFootballFocus grades reiterate that. Not only was Jones injured this year, but talented safeties Ricardo Allen and Keanu Neal were also placed on IR. With these three players back in the lineup next season, look to see the Falcons to shock fans and media across the league.
The keys to the Falcons bouncing back this season wasn’t making a ton of roster changes, but it was getting their squad healthy and ready to play. Their weaknesses this year were lack of pass protection and below average pass coverage, and they addressed their offensive needs and are getting their defensive stars healthy. The Falcons roster was talented enough to make a run this season, and this off-season they added even more talent. With Matt Ryan in control of their offense, and Julio Jones fresh off a new contract, expect great things from the Falcons next season.
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